Wuzhen 2015: Evaluating China’s Competing Vision of the Internet

The 2nd World Internet Conference (WIC) was held in the town of Wuzhen in China from 16th-18th December, 2015. Organized by the Chinese government since 2014, the WIC is China’s attempt to present an alternate vision of internet governance, with its pitch for increased ‘cyber-sovereignty’. This is in contrast to the prevailing notion across the world that internet should be governed by a multistakeholder model. The WIC is part of China’s effort to establish a stronger presence in the internet governance sphere, with many in China likening Wuzhen to an ‘internet Davos’.

One of the ways the Chinese government is attempting to make its presence felt is by attracting high profile names to the WIC. The 2nd edition made news for the presence of Fadi Chehade, the ICANN CEO.  Chehade was also appointed to the High Level Advisory Committee of the WIC’s organizing Secretariat, a move that has come in for criticism from some quarters. He is among a list of appointees that include Jack Ma of the Alibaba group and Werner Zorn, the “father of the German Internet”. But the 2nd edition was notable for its absentees as much as it was for those who attended it. The resistance to an event like the WIC is based on China’s idea of cyber-sovereignty and fears of creating a walled internet that limits access to the internet based on jurisdiction.

In his speech at the opening ceremony of the WIC, Chinese President Xi Jinping- on whose account the conference was suddenly moved from October to December– reiterated China’s case for sovereign control of the internet. China has traditionally made the contested claim that the notion of sovereign control of the internet is based on the principle of sovereign equality, as enshrined in the UN Charter. This position is completely in opposition to the idea that all stakeholders should play an equal role in the governance of the internet given the historical role of the different stakeholders in the creation and development of the internet.

However, China’s claim to sovereignty over the internet is not without its supporters. For instance, the ITU Secretary General Zhao Houlin spoke at the WIC of the difference between internet governance which should involve all stakeholders and cybersecurity where states should play a dominant role. This is also consistent with ITU’s position as a multilateral institution which facilitates inter-state discussions on issues like cybersecurity.

On the issue of cybersecurity, China’s position is on firmer ground. The Outcome Document of the recently concluded WSIS 10-year review, points to the consensus among States of the ‘leading role’ played by States in cybersecurity matters. The High Level Meeting of the WSIS Review which happened at the same time as the WIC presented the best evidence of this position. Countries from across the board pushed for language that reiterated the central role of States in cybersecurity issues, rejecting suggestions for a more human rights compatible approach that took on board other stakeholders. Thus, the opposition to China’s push for greater prominence in the internet sphere is not based merely on its support of cyber-sovereignty.

Rather, the resistance stems from a deeper of mistrust of China based on the government’s domestic stranglehold over the internet. Activists have long protested China’s blocking of many popular services like Google, Facebook and Twitter which continue to remain unavailable in China. Ironically, it has been reported that international participants of the 2nd WIC were surreptitiously given access to these sites through special devices and ‘cheat codes’.

Yet, commentators are divided over whether the wider international community must engage with an event like the WIC. Some advocate a healthy scepticism towards China’s own policies, but point to the benefits of engaging directly with the Chinese government on what is meant to be an international platform for internet governance. Others argue that despite the marginal benefits of engaging with China, large scale attendance of the WIC would grant legitimacy to the arguably repressive policies Chinese government.

Criticism notwithstanding, China is committed to making WIC a platform where a competing vision of internet governance can gain traction. Whether this actually happens depends on 1) how open and accessible the next editions of the WIC are to the wider internet community; and 2) how willing the Chinese government is to engage in other internet governance fora that are more multistakeholder than multilateral. China has already succeeded in similar initiatives in other issue domains like trade where it hosts an annual trade fair that is widely attended. Appointing a High Level Advisory Board comprising of the CEO of a multistakeholder institution like ICANN and an internationally well regarded figure like Jack Ma (who is part of the coordination council of the NetMundial initiative) seems like a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen if this will lead to other such moves or if the WIC will be confined to a corner of the internet governance map.

Lessons from Busan: Report on the 1st Young ICT Leaders’s Forum

The author was one of 35 international participants selected by the ITU and the city of Busan to attend this event.

The three day Young ICT Leaders’ Forum jointly organised by the city of Busan, South Korea and the International Telecommunications Union came to a close on Friday, the 11th of December. The forum was attended by young professionals in the ICT Sector from over 30 countries. Pursuant to a commitment made by the city of Busan as the host of last year’s ITU Plenipotentiary conference, the event sought to inform the next generation of ICT policymakers from around the world. The first two days featured presentations by representatives of the Korean government and industry, and the ITU. Since the forum had a thematic focus on the Internet of Things(IoT), the third day involved field visits to IoT facilities around Busan.

Many of the Korean representatives made presentations of projects that were funded by the Creative Vitamins Project on Day 1. A joint initiative of the National Information Society Agency (NIA) and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Creative Vitamins Project is funding upto 50 projects in the IoT space in the next 2 years. The projects presented (at various stages of completion) included smart cars, aerial drones that monitored illegal fishing, smart electric grids, healthcare IoT technologies and smart factories. The smart car presentation was particularly useful. As a technology that is close to being a commercial reality, the presentation of Su-Jin Kwag of KATECH was particularly useful in mapping the government, industry and policy inputs that went into the completion of this project.

Day 2 kicked off with a keynote address by Mr. Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of the ITU. He noted the critical role IoT can play in the realisation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The day also featured presentations from other ITU representatives on ITU’s activities in the Asia-Pacific region. In the second half of the day, participants discussed ICT policy challenges in their respective countries. The author had the chance to rapporteur one of the breakout groups.

Though many of the participants worked in technical areas, they were acutely aware of the policy and governance challenges that affected their work. Access, human rights and government corruption were issues that came up repeatedly in these discussions. Ms. Xiaoya Yang led the interactive session and along with representatives of the Korean industry provided valuable feedback on the outcomes of the breakout session. Through their feedback, they asked participants to focus on short and medium term solutions that can improve access to ICTs while being aware of long term, structural issues like corruption. They stressed the need for innovative thinking to overcome many of the challenges encountered by policy makers in developing countries.

On day 3, participants were taken on field visits to two centers of IoT research within Pusan. The first was the IoT Centre at the Pusan National University, where participants had the chance to interact with researchers working on cutting edge IoT research in healthcare, smart grids among other technologies. The second was the Hyundai factory in Ulsan which is almost entirely automated. Many of the production processes at the factory incorporated IoT technologies.

In addition to the above, the Forum afforded participants a chance to immerse themselves in Busan with cultural programmes and other social activities.

Yes to multi-stakeholderism

By Chinmayi Arun and Sarvjeet Singh

The post originally appeared in The Hindu on 20th July 2015.

With the government’s decision to call for public comment and response, the recent consultations on net neutrality are a step in the right direction.

New Ideas: “A change in India’s stand signals potential openness to consultative policy-making.” In picture, activists staging a protest in favour of net neutrality in New Delhi.

New Ideas: “A change in India’s stand signals potential openness to consultative policy-making.” In picture, activists staging a protest in favour of net neutrality in New Delhi.

India declared its support for multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet at the ICANN 53 meeting in Buenos Aires and at the first Preparatory Meeting for the U.N. General Assembly’s overall review of the implementation of the World Summit on Information Society outcomes earlier this month. This, in combination with the government’s efforts at consultative policy-making in the context of net neutrality, may signal the beginning of a more discursive approach to communication policy.

India’s statements at both meetings have drawn attention thanks to the country’s place in the decade-old furious debate still raging over global Internet governance. Countries such as the U.S. and Germany have advocated a ‘multi-stakeholder’ model that consults governments, industry, civil society and technical community while making decisions that affect the Internet. This is consistent with these countries’ domestic approach to communication policy, which includes independent regulators that conduct wide consultations and frame policy after accounting for the concerns of various stakeholders. India has opposed this point of view in the past, favouring the ‘multilateral model’ in which national governments make decisions through an equal vote, arguing that this is the most equitable model. This has been consistent with India’s domestic command-control communication policy, which has tended to confine citizen participation in governance to the casting of the vote.

The change in India’s stand globally signals potential openness to consultative policy-making. Since ‘multi-stakeholder’ governance is an ambiguous term , the government’s approach to domestic communication policy may be a good indicator of its intentions for the Internet. In this context, it is worth taking a close look at how the net neutrality policy is being made. A clear effort has been made at consultation and responsiveness. It is a promising start and may be the beginning of consultative decision-making that gives citizens more avenues to discuss the best way for them to access information.

Consultative approach

Before publishing the net neutrality report this month, the Department of Telecommunications conducted a series of consultations. Although these consultations were closed and only for invited parties, the committee reached out to a wide range of experts and stakeholders. Reading the report makes it apparent that many perspectives were invited and incorporated but that we need to work towards documenting public input better. It is necessary to find a way to reflect different concerns within a post-consultation report.

Consultative governance of Internet policy will mean significant changes both in the process followed and in our deep-seated attitudes towards governance. If the government has to develop the uncomfortable habit of being more immediately responsive and accountable for decisions, we the stakeholders also need to take responsibility for our own communication policy.

For consultations to work, we will need to provide well-researched inputs and a continued willingness to engage and see other points of view, which is a habit that will also take time to develop.

The net neutrality consultation was a promising debut in which the government took the time to listen and respond, and a range of citizens made the effort to contribute and engage.

This is not the first time that India has flirted with the idea of multi-stakeholder governance. At the IGF 2012, the then Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Kapil Sibal, spoke of the India’s support for the multi stakeholder model. Following this, the government set up an advisory group for the India Internet Governance forum, and frequently invites inputs including in the net neutrality consultation.

Governments and other stakeholders of the world disagree about what ‘multi-stakeholder’ governance means. This governance model has its roots in the phrase ‘enhanced co-operation’, a compromise text inserted in the Tunis Agenda after prolonged negotiation. The meaning of this term, and the role played by NGOs in making decisions about the Internet remains elusive after years of international debate. The failure of the Working Group on Enhanced Co-operation set up to publish a report on what the model means illustrates the sensitive international politics within which the issue is submerged. An actual shift in India’s position may change the balance of the politics and would be worth watching out for.

India’s willingness and efforts to support a consultative model globally is likely to depend on its experience with such a model locally. The net neutrality consultations and leveraging of the multi-stakeholder advisory group are, therefore, tangible domestic experiments.

Multi-stakeholder models can vary in form and can exclude key stakeholders. For example, the Cyber Regulatory Advisory Committee consists of governmental and industry representatives with just one member from the technical community. Its characterisation as ‘multi-stakeholder’ has value since the government has the option of nominating others to the committee. But until the actual composition is more representative of different viewpoints, it will remain an industry-government committee. Similarly, the government’s cyber-security initiatives have tended to be industry-government conversations. This is troubling since all these initiatives ought to include people who work to embed human rights within these systems.

Commendable steps

The recent net neutrality consultations are a step in the right direction. The department’s decision to call for public comment and response to the report is commendable, especially since the department is under no legal obligation to do this. If India is serious about consultative decision-making, it will be worthwhile to build the more ad hoc processes followed for the net neutrality report into a constantly-improving system. The TRAI has experience with inputs from public consultations, and we have a lot to learn from other democracies that do this on a regular basis.

India’s fears about multi-stakeholder governance have always had their roots in its concerns about decision-making being dominated by corporations, especially U.S.-based corporations. This is why our government has consistently supported the traditional Westphalian governance model based on reasoning that a multilateral conversation between governments is likely to be more equitable than one in which international companies that are larger than most countries can dominate. It is good to see that the Indian government is interrogating this standpoint. This is in keeping with this government’s overhaul of systems to modern decision-making and accountability systems. India will still need to work out details and build on existing efforts like the net neutrality consultation and the multi stakeholder advisory group. We will need to carefully craft our policies to ensure that the process goes beyond giving industry a voice, and encourages independent inputs that effectively safeguard citizens’ rights.

(Chinmayi is the Research Director and Sarvjeet is the Project Manager and Fellow at the Centre)

Indian statement on ITU and Internet at the Working Group Plenary

Statement from Indian Head of Delegation, Mr Ram Narain for WGPL

Chairman of Working Group Plenary, Mr Musab Abdulla, Head of Delegations, delegates, ladies and gentlemen, good morning to you all. I was indeed impressed with the camaraderie with which discussions were held inspite of the fact that delegates discussing the issues have different cultures, languages, nuances, impressions and sometimes, interests.
Governance of Packet switched data Telecom Networks based on Internet Protocol (IP), popularly known as Internet, has become an important and contentious issue due to several reasons known to all of us. We proposed a draft resolution to address some of these key issues pertaining to IP based networks. When we put up the proposal, I had thought that the proposal would contribute in diminishing some of the differences. These issues and their probable solutions are given in our draft resolution, document 98, about which we were ready to take constructive inputs.

Information is power these days. The wise Lord Acton said about hundred and fifty years ago that Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The countries in modern times have become great on the principles of equality, liberty and justice. As and when these principles were compromised great powers lost their hold. Broadband penetration and connectivity has been the important running theme of this conference. We believe this, like great empires, can only be built on the principles of fairness, justice, and equality. No Telecom Network whether IP based or otherwise can function without naming and numbering, which is the lifeline of a network. Their availability in a fair, just and equitable manner, therefore, is an important public policy issue and needs to be dealt that way. We believe that respecting the principle of sovereignty of information through network functionality and global norms will go a long way in increasing the trust and confidence in use of ICT.

There are number of existing Internet related resolutions, but they only touch the issue in general and, therefore, without focus concrete action does not happen. Our Resolution was with a view to deal with the issues in a focused manner. Some countries supported our draft resolution, while some others were not able to support it. Some stated since the proposal is a comprehensive one, dealing with a number of important issues, more time is needed for them to develop a view on it. Due to the number of proposals with Ad-hoc group lined up before our draft resolution, there was no time left for detailed discussion on the proposal. Therefore, India agreed not to press the resolution for discussion due to paucity of time, with an understanding that for these issues of concerns for many Member States, contributions can be made in various fora dealing with development of IP based networks and future networks, including ITU. India would like that discussion should take place on these issues and we look forward to these discussions. We would request that this Statement is included in the records of plenipotentiary-14 meeting.

We would like to express our thanks for the cooperation extended by various Member States, particularly USA, for appreciating our concerns and all those who shared our concerns and supported the draft resolution. I would also like to thank Mr Fabio Bigi, Chairman of Adhoc Working Group for giving patient hearing to all us and tolerating all our idiosyncrasies and still arriving at consensus. This is because of his wisdom, which comes with experience.

Thank you all.

Re-drafted resolution from India at the ITU Plenipotentiary

ITU’s role in Improving Network Functionalities for Evincing Trust and Confidence in IP based Telecom Networks

The Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (Busan, 2014),

recalling,

Resolution 101 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, on ‘IP-based networks’, in which Member States resolved to vest ITU with the mandate to collaborate and coordinate with relevant organizations involved in the development of IP-based networks and the future internet;

Resolution 102 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, on ‘ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet and the management of Internet resources, including domain names and addresses’;

Resolution 130 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, on ‘Strengthening the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies’;

recalling further,

Paragraph 39 of the Tunis Agenda, on building confidence and security in the use of ICTs by strengthening the trust framework;

Paragraph 46 of the Tunis Agenda, on ensuring respect for privacy and the protection of personal information and data;

Action Line C5 of the Geneva Plan of Action, on ‘Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs in realizing Information Society’, of which ITU is the sole coordinator;

the ongoing work under SG17 of ITU-T on ICT Security Standards Roadmap and under other questions, and SG13 on Next Generation Networks;

recognizing,

that equitable, fair and just allocation and assignments of resources related to packet networks are necessary for telecom/ICT development, and require facilitation and collaboration among relevant organizations and member states for planning, implementation, monitoring and cooperation in its policies;

that for proper functioning of a telecom network, resources namely, among others, naming, numbering and addressing are necessary;

that, Council Resolution 1305, identified public policy issues related to International Internet (telecom/ICT management), such as security, safety, continuity, sustainability, and robustness of the Internet (telecom/ICTs), and Council Resolution 1336 adopted at its 2011 session established a working group of the council on Internet Public Policy (CWG- Internet) whose terms of reference are to identify, study and develop matters related to International Internet Public related issues including in resolution in 1305.
that for security and safety of telecom/ICT services, member states need to develop appropriate legal, policy and regulatory measures, which need to be supported by technical capabilities of networks;

that the private sector should play an active role in day-to-day operations, innovation and value creation;

that a multi-stakeholder approach should be adopted, to the extent possible, at all levels to improve the coordination of activities of international and inter-governmental organizations and other institutions involved in telecom/ICT networks based on IP technology;

considering,

that all future networks are likely to be packet-based, delivering several telecom services presently based on IP technology;

that modern day packet networks at present have many security weaknesses, including those relating to records of network transactions;
that at times, even for local address resolution, the system has to use resources outside the country, which makes such address resolution costly and to some extent insecure, and may result in violation of privacy by other State, even without any recourse to address the privacy violation issue citing non applicability of privacy protection laws to non-citizens or by having different laws for citizens and non-citizens;

that at times, communication traffic originating and terminating in a country also flows outside the boundary of a country making such communication costly and to some extent insecure, and may result in violation of privacy even without any recourse to address the privacy violation issue citing non applicability of privacy protection laws to non-citizens or by having different laws for citizens and non-citizens;
that IP addresses are not contiguously distributed, which makes the tracing of communication difficult in case of need as per national laws;

resolves,

to address systematically the issues in the considering part of this resolution, seeing their criticality to deliver ICT-based services through public telecom networks, in view of ITU’s role in “Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs”, fulfilling of which is a fundamental need in realizing Information Society,

instructs the Director of the TelecommunicationsStandardization Bureau,

to undertake study in collaboration with relevant organisations蜉 involved in the development of IP-based networks and future networks:

to explore the development of naming and numbering system from which the naming and numbering of different countries are easily discernible;
to develop principles for allocation, assignment and management of IP resources including naming, numbering and addressing which is systematic, equitable, fair, just, democratic and transparent;

to make recommendations on network capability which ensure effectively that address resolution for the traffic originating and intended to be terminated by the user in the same country/region takes place within the country/region;

to undertake study in collaboration with relevant organisations1 involved in the development of IP-based networks to recommend a system that ensures effectively that traffic originating and intended to be terminating in the same country remains within the country;

to undertake study in collaboration with relevant organisations1 involved in the development of IP-based to recommend effective ways for maintaining faithful records of transactions through the network;

to undertake study in collaboration with all stakeholders involved to study the weaknesses of present protocols used in telecom networks, and develop and recommend secure, robust and tamper-proof protocols to meet the requirements of future networks in view of the envisaged manifold increase in traffic and end-devices in the near future in the light of IoT and M2M needs.

invites Member States and Sector Members

to participate actively in the discussions around these issues and to make contributions.

On the international politics of ITU negotiations

Heading into the last week of the International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary in Busan, the fault lines on crucial Internet-related issues appears fairly clear. The ad hoc group on Internet governance, set up by the Working Group of the Plenary, has sought earnestly to churn out a final, agreed text of Resolutions 102, 103, 133 and 180 (see background here) but consensus has been far from elusive on substantive issues. At the time of writing, the Indian proposal on the ITU’s role in realising a secure information society is yet to be introduced (early indications are it will be moved tomorrow morning). For the most part of this week, India has carefully stayed away from some of the more contentious issues that have consumed the ADHG’s time. At the heart of this debate is the ITU’s role in Internet governance which the Plenipotentiary has the power to modify, if it so chooses. Russia has been at the forefront of a small, but vocal group of countries (the Arab states being an important constituent of this group) that want the Union to play a significant “policy-oriented” role in Internet governance. This includes, but is not limited to:

1. An enhanced role played by the ITU secretariat and the Council Working Group-Internet in submitting reports to the UN General Assembly on Internet-related public policy issues (Res 102)
2. Acknowledging at the ITU that the “management of the registration and allocation of domain names and IP addresses must fully reflect the international and multicultural nature of the Internet”. (Res 102)
3. Acknowledging at the ITU that all governments “should have an equal role and responsibility for international Internet governance” (Res 102)
4. Encouraging ITU member states to “protect their Internet Protocol-based networks from unlawful surveillance….through the development of international Internet-related public policy” (Res 101)
5. Getting the ITU to express concern about the “lack of international legal norms, elaborated under the auspices of the United Nations…with binding force for States and other stakeholders, for governance and use of the Internet” (Res 102)
6. Asking ITU member states to “refrain from using ICTs involving the extraterritorial interception and monitoring communications in a way which violates the privacy of communications and users’ personal data protection” (Res 130)

The response, or to be more precise, opposition to proposals of the sort mentioned above have come from an equally vocal group led by the United States (with UK, some EU states, Australia, Japan and Canada being constituent members). Broadly speaking, their response has followed these lines of argumentation.

1. The ITU does not have the regulatory capacity or mandate to take on substantive themes in Internet governance.
2. IG principles have already been agreed upon in avenues like the NETMundial and ICANN dialogue processes, and do not need rephrasing or articulation at the ITU.
3. Amendments mooted (on issues such as submission of reports to UNGA, regional and international cooperation on cybersecurity measures) already find place in ITU text in some version or the other.

The reason or motive behind each specific proposal (or rebuttal) may vary but the underlying narrative is the same. On one hand there are those who believe that the ITU must take on greater IG responsibilities, while on the other there are those who want no change to the Union’s mandate. In the larger debate on a “multistakeholder” model of Internet governance on issues including, but not limited to the IANA transition, this schism is important to take note of. Some countries are clearly comfortable with the ITU, whether on account of their principled opposition to multistakeholderism or concerns regarding accountability in the MSM model. Sample, for instance, this debate on Resolution 130 on Friday night regarding “regional and international cooperation” on cybersecurity measures. The original proposal by Cuba read:

…invites Member states

to strengthen regional and international cooperation, taking into account Resolution 45 (Rev. Dubai, 2014), through the conclusion of agreements and implementation of measures to facilitate the reduction of risks and threats to confidence and security in the use of ICTs;

In addition to the several objections it had on this specific proposal, the United States at the end of a long (and exhausting!) debate suggested that member states be invited to strengthen ….cooperation with “all stakeholders”, which the Russian and Iranian delegations took immediate exception to. Russia was of the opinion that issues concerning national security is a matter to be handled by States and not non-governmental entities, while the Iranians were more direct. “Who are these stakeholders?” asked the Iranian diplomat, “would any person on the street be considered a stakeholder?” Iran elaborated its point further, suggesting that domestic agencies that are in charge of cyber-issues should consult internally with stakeholders but that ITU member states cannot be held to a resolution that “invites” (and thus puts a legal-moral imperative on) them to cooperate regionally and internationally with them.

The merits of these proposals and counter-proposals aside, it is clear countries that are mooting Internet governance reform proposalsnat the ICANN-level are making careful interventions to ensure that the ITU and ICANN universes do not collide.

For instance during a discussion on Resolution 180 (Facilitating the transition from IPv4 to IPv6), Russia led a proposal asking the Plenipotentiary to facilitate the transition “considering that”

c)that many developing countries want the Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITUT) to become a registry of IP addresses in order to give the developing countries the option of obtaining IP addresses direct from ITU, while other countries prefer to use the current system;

The United States raised its objections to this proposal, suggesting Res 180 is on transition from IPv4 to IPv6, and “has nothing to do with registries.”

On the other hand, states that have raised objections to the NETMundial/ICANN dialogue have made a concerted effort to voice their IG priorities at the Plenipot. India has not offered a hint as to where it stands on this debate, but more should become clear as the delegation moves its draft proposal tomorrow (post on that to follow).

India and the Internet at PP-14

The latest edition of ITU’s quadrennial meeting of the “supreme organ”, the Plenipotentiary Conference is well underway in Busan, South Korea. It appears that Internet-related issues and India’s position in relation to them will both be very interesting to watch as PP-14 progresses. (See here for one perspective on how the Indian government’s approach to issues at the ITU and to Internet Governance could be viewed.) While there has not been much discussion of the event in India as yet, it remains early days. Regular updates on the proceedings are officially reported here.

Here is a summary of the issues and events of note (a full schedule is available here):

Elections

PPs host important elections each time that they convene, for the subsequent four year period. Houlin Zhao from China has been elected to the position of the Secretary General (152 votes out of 152 countries present and voting, he was the only candidate). See here for a biography. Malcolm Johnson from the United Kingdom will serve as Deputy Secretary General (104 votes of 168 countries present and voting). See here for a biography. India also fielded a candidate for membership to the Radio Regulations Board. His bid was unsuccessful. Full results of the election are available here.

The first week also saw elections of member states to the 48 seats of the ITU Council, which governs the ITU in the period between PPs. India continues to hold its seat on the ITU Council. A full break down of the results, along with the vote counts, is here (India is listed under Region E).

India’s Policy Statement

India made a policy statement at PP-14 on the 21st of October. The statement discussed the digital divide and the barriers that language posed to widespread access to ICTs. It also discussed the new government’s priorities in relation to the Internet:

“Coming to internet services, India has over 300 Million users but the broadband penetration is around 5%. One of the main reasons for low Broadband penetration is also high cost of Broadband connection. Now India is poised to repeat the same growth story in Broadband by bringing down the cost.

I wish to inform that the new government led by the H.E. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi launched an ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme, aimed at empowering more than one billion people with the power of technology and broadband highways. An ambitious project of laying the optical fiber to connect all the villages with the support of Government funding of about $4 billion has been initiated. We plan to make available broadband services to all the villages of India, which are about 600,000 in number, in a phased manner in the coming years.   The object is to ensure digital platform for all applications such as e-health, e-commerce, e-education, e- governance etc through Broadband highways. This ‘Digital India’ Programme will unleash the hidden strength of India by providing people centric innovative applications and services bringing in inclusive development. The ‘Digital India’ Programme, therefore, has all four goals envisaged by ITU viz. growth, inclusiveness, sustainability, innovation & partnership.”

The full text of the statement is here.

Internet-related issues

It appears that the Working Group of the Plenary (WGPL) will work, through ad hoc groups on the bulk of Internet-related issues. On the whole, WGPL will review 81 proposals and 334 pages of text in 15 sessions, and cover a range of issues including some relating to ICTs.  See here for a quick summary of the work. In addition, Committees 5 will be of relevance.

The following work is relevant:

  1. Proposals concerning the Internet-related resolutions

The WGPL formed an ad-hoc group to consider the proposals (all accessible here) relating to the following:

  • Resolution 101 concerning Internet Protocol-based networks
  • Resolution 102 concerning the ITU’s role in international internet related public policy issues & management of internet resources, including domain names and addresses
  • Resolution 133 concerning the role of Member States in the management of internationalised (multilingual) domain names
  • Resolution 180 concerning the transition from IPv4 to IPv6
  • Proposed resolution titled “ITU’s role in realizing Secure Information Society” [IND-1]
  • Proposed resolution titled “Voluntary guidelines and best practices for designing, installing and operating Internet exchange points” (IAP-7)
  • Proposed resolution titled “Bridging the international connectivity divide” (PRG-1)
  • Proposed resolution titled “Preserving and promoting multilingualism on the Internet for an integrating and inclusive information society” (IAP-1)

It appears that the Indian proposal (titled “ITU’s role in realizing Secure Information Society”, available as a standalone document here), called Proposal 98 will be controversial. See here and here for critical takes on the proposal.

  1. Ad-hoc group on WSIS-related resolutions

An ad hoc group led by Russia will look at Resolution140 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) concerning ITU’s role in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (available here) and Resolution  172  (Guadalajara, 2010) concerning an Overall review of implementation of the outcomes of the  World Summit on the Information Society (available here). 

  1. Amendments to Resolution 136 (Antalya, 2006) (ICTs during emergency and disaster situations)

Along with the Bahamas and Vietnam, India has proposed amendments (IAP/34R1-A1/30ACP/67A1/12 and IND/85/1) to Resolution 136 (Antalya, 2006) concerning “The use of telecommunications/information and communication technologies for monitoring and management in emergency and disaster situations for early warning, prevention, mitigation and relief”. An ad-hoc group will revise Resolution 136 and report back to WGPL on Friday, 24 October (afternoon).

  1. Amendments to Resolution 130 130 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) (strengthening ITU’s roe in builing security and confidence in ICTs)

Seven proposals (available here.) have been submitted in relation to Resolution 130 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) concerning “Strengthening the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies” (USA/27R1A3/4, CUB/70/2,RCC/73A1/16B/75/4ARB/79A2/13EUR/80A1/14 and INS/82/2). The need for any amendment is itself disputed, and an ad-hoc group will consider the question.

  1. Amendments to Resolution 174 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) (illicit use of ICTs)

Seven proposals have been submitted in relation to Resolution 174 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) concerning ITU’s role with regard to international public policy issues relating to the risk of illicit use of information and communication technologies (CUB/70/3B/75/6 and ARB/79A4/4). Concerns around this resolution related to ensuring thet there privacy is preserved, even as security concerns are addressed. The matter will be discussed by an ad-hoc group.

  1. Consolidation of proposals relating to Resolution 179 (Rev. Guadalajara 2010) (child online protection)

Four proposals on Resolution 179(Rev. Guadalajara 2010) concerning the ITU’s role in child online protection have been submitted (IAP/34R1-A1/3RCC/73A1/26ARB/79A3/6 and EUR/80A1/11) to a unanimous consensus. The United Kingdom, one of the proposers, will consolidate these proposals into a single text.

  1. Ad-hoc working group on Resolution 177 (conformance and interoperability) and a proposed resolution on counterfiet devices

Committee 5 set up an ad-hoc working group to consider revisions to Resolution 177 (Guadalajara,          2010) concerning Conformance          and            interoperability (see here) and a new draft resolution concerning counterfeit devices (available in consolidated form here).

Openness & Access

The work of the PP is divided by Committee, and all of these proceedings will be webcast here. However, text will be negotiated and prepared by ad hoc working groups whose proceedings will not be webcast. Proposals to open ITU meetings to non-members are slated to be discussed at PP-14.

A proposal to make texts of the ITU, such as PP resolutions and decisions, permanently available to the public online has been approved. The language of the amended text of Decision 12 does not cover working documents.